Discussing issues that The United States face both foreign and domestic. A Non-partisan viewpoint where we believe in right and wrong not right and left, hopefully forming a more UNITED States of America.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What the 2012 Election Results Mean

First off, I want to say I was wrong about the election. I thought it would be closer than it actually was. By mid afternoon on election I knew it looked dim for Republicans. I miscalculated the impact of the last four years on voters. Having said that, the 2012 election does provide some very interesting into future elections.

With a poor economy, record, and skyrocketing deficits under President Obama the last four years, Republicans had an excellent formula to pick up the Senate and the White House. They got neither. The 2012 results may well indicate the United States received a political realignment in 2008.

     Political Scientists like to categorize elections into four categories.

     1) Maintaining election. Partisan ideology and loyalty remains the same and rewards the “in-party” or stronger political party. This is the most common election and it maintains the status quo.

     2) Deviating Election. This is a temporary shift where political ideology and loyalty generally remains the same, however some people defect to punish a bad performance/appeal to the weaker party. Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton are examples of a temporary deviation. There has never been a three-term deviation in American history.

     3) Realigning election. The stronger party takes back control from the deviation. Political ideology, partisanship, and loyalty return to the norm. John F. Kennedy in 1960 and George W. Bush in 2000 are examples of a reinstatement.
     4) Realigning election. Partisan loyalty and ideology changes, they long lasting impact, and happen about once a generation, usually triggered around a national crisis. The two main realignments are FDR’s “Progressive Era” in 1932 and Reagan’s “Conservative Era” in 1980.

     2008 appears to have been a realignment election, perhaps triggered the economic crisis. According to Walter Burnham, realignments are almost predictable. They tend to occur at 38-year intervals. 1818, 1856, 1894, 1932 were all realignments with 1970 being another one (but hurt because of a plurality of issues in the early 70s, not fully integrated until Reagan in 1980). 38 years after 1970, is 2008.

     There are also 5 characteristics indicating a realignment election.  

1) Change in Regional Base of Party Support.

     Whigs were in both in the North and South before the civil war. After the war, the GOP was nonexistent in south. In the New Deal Era, the GOP lost a ton of support in North. Under the Reagan Era, Democrats lost the South.

2)  Change in Social Groups Base Support.

     People will go opposite directions. Pro Slavery Whigs became democrats/Anti-secession Democrats became Republican. Under Reagan, conservative Democrats became Republican.

3)  Mobilization of New Voters.

4) New Issues Divide Electorate.

     The economy generally is the reason for this one.

5) Voters Change Patterns and Thoughts About Parties.

     Party ID change is an example.

     In 2008/2012 we do appear to see a regional change in support. Once conservative states such as Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina, (and to a lesser extent: Indiana) are now considered toss-ups. The toss-up states such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, have easily gone blue in the last two elections. The once “hopeful” turn red states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, appear to not even be in play at least at the Presidential level. The once dominant conservative states of Arizona and Texas will be in play for Democrats around 2020 (more on that year later). Texas voter ID is nearly tied between Republicans and Democrats.

     We also appear to see a change in the social groups. Hispanics generally have always gone liberal, but Bush nearly earned half of their support in 2004. Now they have gone heavily to the Democrats. Even Cuban-Americans in Florida, known to go about 70/30 Republican, went to Obama on election night in 2012. African Americans, single women, and young Americans all heavily went blue as well.

     Speaking of mobilization of new voters. Obama captured the young Americans solidly in 2008 and 2012. According to V.O. Key, who is one of the most respected political science experts, claimed if you get voters to vote the same way in consecutive elections, you will most likely have them for life. 2016 will indicate several things, including if Republicans lost a whole generation of voters. 

     New issue dividing the electorate: Even the least politically involved people could name a few today that vastly divide this country.

     The fifth part, Obama may not have yet, especially because of 2010, but it does appear he has the other four.

     So based on this evidence, 2008 was either a deviation or a realigning election. No deviation has ever gone three terms, so 2016 will determine 2008’s fate. The other reason why 2008 was a realigning election is because of the 2012 Senate elections. If Republicans cannot win in Montana, North Dakota, (lesser extent: Missouri and Indiana), they are in trouble. The political conditions and seats up for election should have given both houses to the Republicans.

     In 2012, Republicans did weaker in some categories despite the last terrible four years. More Mormons went to Bush in 2004 than Romney in 2012. Mitt barely squeaked by the popular vote of John McCain, yet both came nowhere close to Bush’s number in 2004, which still would have lost to Obama in both elections. In Colorado, more Democrats voted on election night than Republicans, an accomplishment that didn’t even occur in 2008.

     The saving grace to the GOP may have been 2010. If not were the massive victories across the country, they may have lost the House of Representatives in 2012. With redistricting, the House of Representatives is mainly secure until the 2020 Census. Republicans now have eight years to get their act in order before they truly become the “weaker” party in realignment. The party, however, is in disarray. ORCA was a massive failure, Speaker John Boehner cannot even keep his own party in-line, and he is kicking prominent people, such as Representatives Tim Huelskamp (Kansas-1), Justin Amash (Michigan-3), Walter Jones (North Carolina-3) and David Schweikert (Arizona-5 but the district will be relabeled the 6th in 2013) off of key committee assignments. Amash claims leadership did not even contact him before the news became public about him losing his committee position. Some Republican lawmakers even faced establishment favored candidates in the 2012 primary.
     In terms of the Fiscal Cliff, Republicans cannot win and will blink first. If they make no deal, they will get the blame. If there is a compromise and taxes do go up (even by a small percentage), they will lose the base. If they let Obama get everything he wants and it fails or by some miracle works, they will get the blame if it goes bad and certainly will not get the credit if the situation improves. If not careful, the GOP could go the way of the Whigs, but that may be a stretch at this point.

     The 2016 field looks promising for Republicans such as Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. Remember though, the GOP establishment vehemently opposed these candidates in the primary of 2010. With maybe the exceptions of Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, which GOP “establishment” candidate looks promising for the election? The bench is made up of non-established candidates. Which may be good for the GOP because the establishment choice has been 1-5 since 1976.  The only year they won was in 1988, which was probably because of the Reagan Realignment. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee in 2016, I do not see how Republicans can win.

     If 2008 was a realigning election, 2016 will go to the Democrats. If it was a deviation, the GOP will win the White House. Republicans need to get their act together and move quickly to attract new voters, but stay on principle. If the GOP cannot, they will be weak after 2020. They will not have the chance to be as strong as they were on the national level in the 1980s, mid 1990s thru early 2000s, until 2046.

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